We are reader-supported. Buying through any red colored link on our site may earn us commissions. Learn More.
Every month, we receive hundreds of emails from readers looking for help choosing the perfect diamond or finding an engagement ring that matches their tastes and budget.
Many of these emails are sent to us by readers interested in finding less expensive alternatives to engagement rings from luxury brands like Tiffany & Co. or Harry Winston.
As we’ve previously covered in our reviews of these brands, you can often find an engagement ring that’s equally as beautiful (and, in many cases, with an equally high-quality diamond) for far less by shopping strategically from a vendor like James Allen or Blue Nile.
One reader contacted us asking for help with just this — creating an engagement ring similar to one offered by Harry Winston at a lower price.
They had a budget of approximately $8,000 to $11,000 and wanted an emerald cut diamond in a beautiful baguette setting.
Here’s an abridged version of the reader’s first few emails:
“Hello Diamond Pro, I am currently looking for an engagement ring. So far, the emerald-cut with tapered baguette side stones from Harry Winston stands out among the rest.
But it is expensive and completely out of my budget. So I am considering buying the stone and making the diamond setting separately.
Is this a good idea? If so, can you give me some recommendations on the how-to’s? And do I stand a chance to get it done exactly as the one in Harry Winston?
This is the setting of the emerald cut engagement ring: http://www.harrywinston.com/en/classic-winston%E2%84%A2-emerald-cut-engagement-ring-tapered-baguette-side-stones
As for the stone, I’m looking for one with a D/E/F color, FL/IF/VVS1/VVS2 clarity, and weighs between 1.0-1.6 carat. My budget really depends on the value of the ring as a whole, but I would say somewhere between $8,000 to $11,000.
Do you think it is possible for me to pull it off? Or maybe, even better than the one from Harry Winston?”
This is absolutely possible, and it’s something we help readers with often. Online vendors such as Blue Nile and James Allen offer a huge variety of settings, including many that look virtually identical to popular settings from well-known jewelry brand names.
This means that you can often create your own ring in a similar style to something available at Tiffany & Co. or Harry Winston at a small fraction of the price you’d pay to buy a diamond ring from one of these vendors.
The key, as always, is to understand the four Cs and the impact they can have on a diamond’s appearance and price.
The emerald cut offers several distinct advantages, from its deep clarity to the abundant light reflections that are provided by its long step cuts.
In general, we recommend selecting an emerald cut diamond with a color grade of I or better and a clarity grade of VS2 or VS1. This ensures that the diamond will be free of inclusions or visible color when it’s viewed with the naked eye.
In their email, this reader stated that they preferred a diamond with a color grade of D, E or F and a clarity grade in the IF to VVS2 range.
After some back and forth emails with this reader, they mentioned that their priority was carat weight (they were looking for a diamond in the 1.50 carat range), and that they were happy to compromise on color and clarity to find a diamond within their budget.
This is all great news, as we generally recommend prioritizing cut quality and carat weight first, then choosing a diamond with the lowest color and clarity grades that allow it to appear free of internal color and eye-clean.
While an emerald cut diamond with a color grade of D, E or F will look absolutely stunning, the difference in price between a diamond in this color range and a diamond with a color grade of, say, I or G/H, is far greater than the perceptible difference in color.
This is true even with the large table and step cuts of the emerald cut, which can make internal color and clarity more visible than in a round brilliant cut diamond.
For example, compare the two diamonds below. On the left is a 1.50 carat, G color, VS2 clarity emerald cut diamond, while on the right is this D color emerald diamond of the same carat weight and clarity:
Even under bright studio lighting and magnification, it’s very difficult to perceive any difference in color between these diamonds. In a real-life setting, with imperfect lighting, both diamonds have a colorless appearance.
Despite this, there’s a large difference in price between the D color diamond, which is priced at $11,930, and the G color diamond, which is available for $8,690.
This mismatch between the aesthetic impact of a flawless color grade and its impact on the cost of a diamond is also why we typically suggest aiming for an eye-clean diamond, rather than one with perfect clarity.
Because the emerald cut diamond has a large table and step cut facet pattern, it’s best to pick a diamond with a clarity grade or VS2 or better. However, going beyond this grade doesn’t always result in a diamond that looks less included.
Based on their preferences and budget, we suggested a variety of emerald cut diamonds to this reader, including this 1.52 carat, H color, VS1 clarity diamond and this impressive 1.54 carat, G color, VS2 clarity stone.
Both diamonds look excellent and offer significantly better value for money than any diamond in the D, E or F color range.
We also found this tapered baguette engagement ring setting, which has a similar appearance to the Harry Winston ring they mentioned in their original email.
Combined with this setting, either of these diamonds will result in a ring that’s extremely similar to the Harry Winston engagement ring, all with a much more affordable price tag.
Well-known luxury brands like Tiffany & Co., Harry Winston and Van Cleef & Arpels offer many truly stunning engagement rings, but their premium prices make them far from optimal when it comes to value for money.
This reader’s approach, of pairing a diamond from James Allen or Blue Nile with a setting that’s similar in style to the Harry Winston ring, is a great way to get the same look for less.
As always, it’s important to allocate your budget strategically when buying a diamond to ensure you get the best possible combination of stone and setting.
For an emerald cut diamond, this typically means limiting your search to diamonds with a color grade in the I or H range and a clarity grade of VS1 or VS2, then checking carefully for signs of color or visible inclusions.
If you need help choosing an emerald cut diamond, or want to discuss creating an alternative to a brand name engagement ring, feel free to contact us.
Here is your coupon code: GFDSF3GF